LGBT

Osaka becomes first Japanese city to recognise same-sex couple as foster parents

The move comes amid a growing recognition among the public of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Japan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 3:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 3:44pm

The city of Osaka has officially recognised a same-sex couple as foster parents, becoming the first municipality in Japan to do so, local and central government officials said Wednesday, as efforts are being made to eliminate discrimination against sexual minorities.

The city government formally recognised two men, one in his 40s and partner in his 30s, as foster parents. The couple, who asked not to be identified along with a teenage boy under their foster care, has been living with the boy since February.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said there is “no precedent” for a same-sex couple being certified as foster parents.

I am happy we became foster parents [and recognised] as a single household, not just as individuals
The older of the two men

The city granted the couple’s request to become foster parents, who look after children who cannot be raised by their birth parents for reasons such as abuse, after determining that the two understood the foster care system and had the financial wherewithal to raise a child.

The move comes amid a growing recognition among the public of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, with some local governments already legally recognising same-sex partnerships.

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But there are still arguments against allowing LGBT people to raise a child, and traditionally only married couples or individuals have been allowed to become foster parents.

“I am happy we became foster parents [and recognised] as a single household, not just as individuals,” the older of the two men told Kyodo News, adding the boy is now “living a comfortable life”.

In the past, two women in the Kanto region in eastern Japan were recognised as individuals eligible to be a foster parent, after which they together raised a child.

In the current case, the male couple consulted the Osaka city child consultation centre in autumn of 2015 about becoming foster parents.

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After undergoing lectures, training and scrutiny by the centre, as well as screening by the city’s social welfare panel, the couple was officially recognised on December 22, 2016 as foster parents allowed to take charge of a child under 18.

There is no legal provision within Japanese law excluding a same-sex couple from being foster parents. But as of March 1, 2015, of the 3,704 foster parent households nationwide, 3,216 households were those of married couples while the remaining 488 were single-parent households, government data shows.